Solar roofing PV modules integrate seamlessly with the roofing material. They are attractive, not only because the modules blend in aesthetically but also. On October 28, Tesla unveiled its new solar roof tiles. Few of us in attendance, if any, realized the solar roofing tiles were actual functional solar. Glass solar tiles are so durable they are warrantied for the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first. Enter your address below to get started.

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I have asphalt-shingle roofs that have the general appearance of slate from the ground. Can you advise me as to the kind of PV modules that would complement the appearance of these roofs? The concept of a PV shingle or tile may be attractive to the uninitiated, but it is a risky investment.

Each shingle is a small Gomepower module that has to be connected electrically in series to reach the DC voltage needed by the power electronics.

That means more than 50 shingles need to be wired in series. This configuration requires long strings of plug-together module-to-module connections that are all hidden beneath the finished roof—and difficult to access. When one module or its connection s fail, all the modules in the string go out—just like a set of cheap holiday lights. A service tech has no easy way of knowing which shingle is defective.

Homeoower big portion of the roof often needs to be taken apart, and all components tested.

Then, if homepwer owner is in shing,es and extra replacement shingles are available, the array may be able to be reassembled. If there is an electrical arc caused by a faulty shingle-to-shingle connection, it could start a fire in combustible tarpaper and wood roof sheathing. Electrical arcs in DC systems do not extinguish themselves—they may get bigger.

Historically, PV shingles have been nailed or screwed into place as the marketers wanted to entice roofers to be installers. However, roofers are not allowed to install solar-electric systems in many jurisdictions such as Massachusettsso an electrician will still be required.


Since there is no back-surface convective airflow, the all-black shingles run hotter than conventional, meaning lowered efficiency and possibly shorter product life.

PV shingles have been a transitory product. How solr will companies selling this product keep producing them?

For example, after five years, Dow ceased manufacturing and distributing Uomepower shingles. There is no long-term experience with the products and they may or may not last. Will the warranty be supported over the roughly three decades that a rooftop array should provide service?

If the product is still available, will it be in the same form and electrical configuration to allow replacement? This is not an easy-to-accept answer—many people still believe that integrating PV and roofing will be a big step homepoaer. If the historic house shigles a black roof, using conventional black-on-black modules installed coplanar to the roof may offer an acceptable solution for some. Standard framed PV modules have been reliable and productive, and we know how to install them well for the long term.

For many people, the solution is to accept the beauty of a product that will produce clean electricity for 40 to 50 years. As the owner of a farmhouse, this has been on my mind as to whether it is worth the trouble.

ASK THE EXPERTS: Aesthetic PV for Historic Buildings | Home Power Magazine

I think you make a clear economic case against it. Forget appearances, well, mostly. Standard framed panels aren’t ‘classic’ roofing appearance wise, but they aren’t the worst looking things either.

We are fortunate to not have to sweat the issue of appearance quite so much, as any panels we mount would be on the rear side of homeoower home with limited exposure to onlookers.

Thanks for making the choice to use conventional panels much more clear! I will never understand why people will pay a premium for high efficiency solar PV modules, but will still buy modules with black frames, black backsheets and install them with low clearance on a black roof. If the aesthetics matter that much, might as well buy the lowest efficiency panels, no? As far as using PV shingles, not only have they not proven themselves thus far, they are a pain to wire and service.


Do I really want to open up my roof to replace a pv shingle? Elon Musk and his followers are touting this as if this was some great new innovation. It might appeal to sjingles who care a lot about how the roof looks. I predict many of those systems could become boat anchors in time and require a reroof to upgrade to a newer PV system. They are not going on my roof either.

Well researched and written. As a contractor most of my life, I’ve built a few roofs. As a slot car enthusiast during childhood years, I knew how the tracks and their connections didn’t fit together well, so I was skeptical of the roofing system back then.

Musk’s latest product with SolarCity provokes the same questions. Time will tell I guess, but not on my roof. Search form Article Search. PV shingles might look good, but present nomepower. Home Power announces a new S-5 mount kit. Home Power presents info on the latest methods and products homepowe for PV system rapid shutdown.

Home Power presents the Solar Decathlon and its many innovations. A Home Power reader writes in about his favorite home energy monitoring system.

Steven, I hate that you are likely right! Hey Lawrence, Be sure to look at the new Tesla roofing product. It’s the best-looking solar roofing shingle product, by far That said, the technical concerns that Steven brought up are real, and it is yet to be determined how Tesla has addressed these issues Their product releases are always shrouded in ambiguity.

What Are Solar Shingles?

I’d look into it though Perhaps a pergola or wood-shed roof. You could have a shallow roof-pitch making the array less visible from ground level, and only lose a bit of efficiency. Subscriber Information Issue Downloads. Connecting to the Gr About Us Contact Us.